Revenue at Fox News, CNN and MSNBC Up Nearly 20 Percent

By A.J. Katz 

The Pew Research Center takes a deep dive into what the 2016 election has meant to the bottom line of the news media.

The 2016 State of the News Media study provides insight into a variety of trends across the news media industry, both cable and print.

According to Pew’s analysis of SNL Kagan data, total revenue across Fox News, CNN and MSNBC was projected to increase by +19.5 percent in 2016, to a total of nearly $5 billion. This includes the two main sources of revenue: advertising and subscriber/licensing fees.


The three major business networks, CNBC, FBN and Bloomberg, on the other hand, saw increases in total and license fee revenue, while ad revenue was flat.

Here are some charts showing total revenue growth, followed by ad revenue growth and subscriber/licensing fee revenue growth:

Fox News, CNN and MSNBC posted a combined +19.5 percent total revenue growth in 2016 versus 2015, and +167.4 percent total revenue growth in 2016 versus 2012.

The combined advertising revenue growth for cable news’s big three in 2016 was +35 percent from 2015, and +47 percent from 2012.

The big three’s combined license fee growth in 2016 was +10 percent from 2015, and +36 percent from 2012.

Additionally, Fox News, CNN and MSNBC increased their overall newsroom spending in 2016 by a combined 9 percent, according to SNL Kagan, to $2.1 billion. This doesn’t even take into account Fox News’s recent announcement that construction on a new, centralized newsroom would begin in July, and will be unveiled in winter 2018.

While cable news is booming right now, not surprisingly print continues to struggle. According to Pew’s findings, daily newspaper circulation posted single digit year-over-year declines (-8 percent). The same was true for weekday print circulation (-10 percent). Total estimated newspaper industry ad revenue for 2016 was $18 billion, based on the Pew’s analysis of the financial statements provided by publicly-traded newspaper companies. That represents a -10 percent drop from 2015.